Super powered champions are seemingly everywhere in the Marvel Universe, but for many years Sam Alexander’s biggest hero was his father, Jesse. As he grew older he began to see his dad was a flawed man, leading him to doubt the tales of heroic intergalactic adventure his father spun for him and his younger sister, Kaelynn. Were his stories about being a super powered law enforcement officer and part of the Nova Corps just bedtime stories for children. After his father disappeared, Sam discovered that his dad was many things — but a liar wasn’t one of them. After donning a mysterious helmet, Sam became the latest and perhaps last member of the Nova Crops.
As Marvel’s lone remaining Nova, Sam struggled to balance his responsibilities to his family, Earth, and the galaxy at large. He made his fair share of mistakes, but he also accomplished some pretty impressive achievements like becoming an Avenger. What made him most proud was helping to bring his father home after he was abducted by the alien Chitauri Empire.
This November, Sam gets a second chance to get to know and see firsthand what kind of man and hero his father is in an All-New, All-Different volume of “Nova” by writer Sean Ryan and artist Cory Smith that features both Alexanders wearing the trademark helmets and wielding the Nova Corps’ signature powers. CBR News spoke with Ryan about how Sam and Jesse’s new partnership will work, the role Sam’s teenage Avengers teammates will play in the book, and the first Marvel villain the Alexanders will have to contend with in their new series.
CBR News: Sean, you had the opportunity to write Sam Alexander in your “Nova” special from last year. I’m guessing you and Marvel both liked the experience since you’re taking over his monthly adventures. What is it about Sam that you enjoy and how are you approaching an ongoing series versus the finite story you last wrote for him?
Sean Ryan: It’s great to be taking over Nova. I’m about a few issues into writing the series now, and the best part about it is that Sam is just a normal fifteen-year-old kid. I remember how I was at fifteen, and if you added “Protect the galaxy” and “Be an Avenger” to that, it would have been a mess. So it’s been great seeing how Sam handles it.
You’re no stranger to Sam, but this series marks the first time you’re writing his father, Jesse Alexander. What do you find most interesting about Jesse? Which aspects of his personality are you especially interested in exploring?
Right now, Jesse is interested in making his family a family again. As we start the series, he’s just happy to be back. He’s happy to be with his wife and kids and happy to be working. The guy doesn’t have a complaint in the world.
When we last saw Sam and Jesse they were having a reunion with the rest of their family. What can you tell us about their heroic and civilian statuses when the series begin eight months after “Secret Wars?” Are they the only Novas patrolling the galaxy? And what can you say this far out about the fact that Jesse appears to be wearing a traditional yellow Nova helmet in the teaser?
Yep, they’re the only Novas right now patrolling the galaxy. But that’s great for Sam, because now that’s twice as many Novas patrolling the galaxy as before. This new status quo is great for the two of them, especially for Sam, as it gives him a bit of a break. He’s got someone who’s got his back. Jesse will be wearing his yellow Nova helmet from before he was a Supernova. Sam keeps wearing the black Nova helmet.
And how is the Alexander family as a whole doing?
The family is doing great! They got Jesse back! They are whole again. They are like a well-oiled machine.
How would you describe their initial dynamic as Novas? Are they effectively partners or is their relationship, given the family dynamics, more complex? Similarly, how does Jesse feel about his son’s role as an Avenger?
Oh yeah, they’re partners. They’re helping each other out. As I said, Sam is a 15 year-old kid. He’s got friends and school and homework. He can’t be Nova all the time. And Jesse is a husband, father and has a job, so also can’t be Nova all the time, either. They help each other out. Sometimes they have to team up if they need the help. The important thing is that they have each other’s back. Jesse couldn’t be prouder of his son.
What kind of beat are the Alexanders patrolling when you pick things up eight months later? Are you primarily interested in doing stories centered around the solar system and Earth, or will you be exploring the rest of the cosmic Marvel Universe?
For the first few issues we’re staying close to home on Earth. I wanted to stay Earthbound for now to keep things a bit more grounded, pun intended.
I’m certainly still getting my feeling for the character and his surroundings so I wanted to make sure I knew how that all worked before jetting off into space and getting up to weirdness up there. We’re in Arizona for the first two issues, but then we start moving around a little after that. Sam goes to New York for some Avengers business by Issue #3.
So Sam’s Avengers teammates will appear in the book?
For sure the Avengers are showing up. Sam is an Avenger now, so they are a big part of his life now. I like to consider being an Avenger, for Sam, to be the most intense after school activity ever. It’s great having other characters around his age on the team too, so we’ll be able to see his relationships with Kamala [Khan] and Miles [Morales]. I think it will be great for Sam to have people his own age, who also do what he does, to talk to.
What are your thoughts on the Alexander family’s rogues gallery? Are you interested in expanding it with new or established characters? Can you share any of the villains readers can expect from your initial stories?
I’m definitely interested in expanding it. Sam has fought his fair share of dangerous bad guys, but I’m definitely interested in throwing new antagonists at him. The first classic Marvel name we see show up is Mole Man.
You’re joined on “Nova” by artist Cory Smith who’s done plenty of sci-fi, strange monsters and characters in books like “Magnus Robot Fighter,” “Turok Dinosaur Hunter” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” It seems like Cory is a natural fit for a book like this, butw hat do you enjoy most about working together?
Cory’s work is awesome. It has been an absolute delight to see his pages coming in. He does the big action stuff so well, but it’s the small character stuff, too. The little things he does between Sam and his high school friends are so good. You really feel like you’re seeing high school kids hanging out. He just nails it.
Finally, let’s conclude with some teases about your initial story in “Nova.” What can you tell us about the adventure that kicks off for the Alexanders in “Nova” #1?
The first issue is called “Beneath the Surface.” There is something mysterious digging up giant holes under Sam’s hometown. But the title also alludes to what’s going one with Sam’s life. Everything appears to be going great, but there is something under the surface of all that that is threatening to destroy everything.
“Nova” #1 debuts in November from Marvel Comics.
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